4.1 Hot It was a night of sights, music and remembering. Seeing these familiar faces from our local stage in one night was more than just refreshing -- it was empowering. More than just an outpour of talents, this night showed us that there are bigger things that await us for Philippine Theater.
In celebration of its golden year, Repertory Philippines (REP) presents a one-night only grand musical gala, REP: 50 Years of Telling Stories. Consisting of its current talents and acclaimed alumni, REP narrated its story from ‘its beginnings, to its continuing efforts of nurturing the next generation of performing greats’ on June 11 at The Theater at Solaire.
The production that features seven segments with different directors took almost a hundred people to mount. Opening with a tribute to Zeneida Amador and honoring all the founders of REP, the show transitions to telling the story of the ‘dreamers, tellers, artisans, hands, interpreters, and the story being realized.’
With numbers from past REP productions such as A Chorus Line, West Side Story, Carousel, Camp Rock, Pippin, Annie, Sound of Music, Jekyll and Hyde, Seussical and Les Miserables, one would think that the show would become a showdown of the ‘best of the best’ Filipino theater talents. But it is rather intimate, rustic, and authentic that it feels as if the audience was witnessing a reunion of a one traditional Filipino family.
The narrations and its productions feel like hearing stories from our beloved grandparents about the ‘good ol’ times’ and their ‘struggles from the early days.’ Its music is arranged to allow different members of the family to sing along regardless of when they had just arrived for the reunion; sometimes in solo; often in chorus.
But the acting was what made REP’s 50th anniversary celebration different and special. Distinctly, because the cast seemed to be saying their lines out of memory, not by the script. It’s occasionally funny with no intention to be, it was poignantly nostalgic, and it pulls the audience in the way a relative’s story of greatness would.
From well-established names of theater actors to seeing the writers, directors, designers, production managers, and stage managers perform on stage, it was inevitable for the cast to be more engaged in narratives, as they lived it than to produce a show that was clean-cut to sell more tickets. It was the real REP members on stage, not the actors.
And that makes all the difference.
The gala came to a close with the ‘young and upcoming REP members taking over center stage as the veterans hand the baton to the new guards of Philippine theater.’
It was a fitting celebration of REP’s five decades of developing Filipino talents and staging excellent productions from Broadway and the West End. Bart Guingona serves as over-all director and collaborates with segment directors Jaime del Mundo, Miguel Faustmann, Audie Gemora, Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo, Raymond Lauchengco, Freddie Santos, and Michael Williams as well as musical director Ejay Yatco and writer Luna Inocian.
Theater luminaries and stars including REP co-founder Baby Barredo, REP Artistic Director Joy Virata, Monique Wilson, Franco Laurel, Sheila Francisco, Markki Stroem, Morisette Amon, Pinky Amador, Mitch Valdes, Ayam Barredo-Eckstein, Cara Barredo, Leo Martinez, Cocoy Laurel, EJ Villacorta and many more gather to #ComeHomeToREP.
It was a night of sights, music and remembering. Seeing these familiar faces from our local stage in one night was more than just refreshing — it was empowering. More than just an outpour of talents, this night showed us that there are bigger things that await us for Philippine Theater.
As they continue on with their journey to the next 50 years, Repertory Philippines continues to bring the same magic for the Philippine stage, honing new talents and offering greater shows for the Filipino audiences, as they too come home to Rep.
You can view their 2017 Season at repertoryphilippines.ph.
4 Stars out of 5!